by Pat Dial
Though the British Government had legally abolished Slavery on August 1, 1833, the institution was in essence continued by the Apprenticeship System which was only ended on August 1, 1838. Both anniversaries are celebrated on the First Monday of August – August Monday.
The story of the struggle for Emancipation is well-known but what is almost unknown is the more important and interesting saga of how the ex-slaves—the freedmen—constructed a rich and valid Way of Life out of the ruins and ashes of slavery. The creativity and resourcefulness which they brought to this almost impossible task of reconstruction is both a source of astonishment and pride to modern-day Guyanese.
The first challenge was economic. The planter Class hoped, indeed expected, the freedmen to stay on as day labourers on the Plantations and imagined that the pre- Emancipation labour relations would continue. But, the freedmen with an unexpected shrewdness, d…